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Milton and the Climates of Reading

Milton and the Climates of Reading: Essays by Balachandra Rajan

Essays by Balachandra Rajan
with an afterword by Joseph A. Wittreich
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Milton and the Climates of Reading
    Book Description:

    Milton and the Climates of Readingoffers timely statements about the ways in which Milton's writings not only addressed their own time, but also speak profoundly and powerfully to ours.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5712-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note on Editions
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction: The Art of Criticism
    (pp. 3-16)

    This book undertakes the daunting literary, cultural, and political work of developing a narrative of Milton criticism over the past sixty years. Its organizing principle is the scholarship of the acclaimed literary critic and Miltonist, Balachandra Rajan. Rajan’s contribution to Milton studies during the course of his writing and publishing career offers a major corrective to the methodological prudence that often distinguishes Milton studies from many other forms of literary criticism.¹ From his publications on Milton, Eliot, and Yeats; English poetics from Spenser to Pound; representations of India in English literature; and imperialisms, Rajan’s scholarship – the expression of his distinctive...

  7. 1 Osiris and Urania
    (pp. 17-32)

    This essay first appeared inMilton Studies13 (1979): 221–35. Poetry, Rajan argues, is written in the space between two coordinates – the ‘Osiris’ principle of the search and the ‘Urania’ principle of vision. The coordinates can offer themselves to each other or can contest each other, and Rajan explores both of these possibilities. In a publication that appeared three years later, ‘Milton, Humanism, and the Concept of Piety’ (inPoetic Traditions of the English Renaissance[1982]), Rajan observed that the contested space lies between the Christian/visionary and the humanist/historical and is focused on the hyphen that both bridges and...

  8. 2 The Poetics of Heresy
    (pp. 33-45)

    This essay (heretofore unpublished) is based on a paper read at a special session convened by Stanley Fish at the 1980 Modern Language Association Convention, Houston, Texas. A fuller version was read at a one-day conference at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario in 1981. Other participants included Louis Martz and John Steadman.

    Rajan’s view of the relationship betweenParadise Lostand theTreatise on Christian Doctrinewas first laid down in‘Paradise Lost’ and the Seventeenth Century Reader. His position has not changed in substance though his awareness of the complex and entangled relationship between the two texts has grown. As...

  9. 3 Surprised by a Strange Language: Defamiliarizing Paradise Lost
    (pp. 46-63)

    An earlier version of this hitherto unpublished essay was read as the annual address to Milton Society of America as a plenary paper at the 1985 Modern Language Association Convention, Chicago, Illinois, and to the Association of College and University Teachers of English in 1986, Winnipeg, Manitoba. InThe Form of the Unfinished(1985) Rajan identified the ‘unifying imperative’ as a shaping force in interpreting Milton’s work. This essay is his most sustained reconsideration of that imperative. As Rajan concedes, he himself contributed strongly to the imperative inThe Lofty Rhyme(1970) and in ‘To Which Is AddedSamson Agonistes’...

  10. 4 Milton Encompassed
    (pp. 64-71)

    An earlier version of this essay was read at the 1997 Modern Language Association Convention, Toronto, Ontario, in the session ‘Milton Studies and Critical Practice 1947–1997,’ which served as the venue for the conception ofMilton and the Climates of Reading. Rajan’s conference address was first published as ‘Milton Encompassed,’Milton Quarterly32.3 (1998): 86–9. This overview of the main contours in a half-century of Milton scholarship included here is a sequel to the compendious survey undertaken by Rajan in the first chapter of‘Paradise Lost’ and the Seventeenth Century Reader(1947), published exactly fifty years before this...

  11. 5 Banyan Trees and Fig Leaves: Some Thoughts on Milton’s India
    (pp. 72-92)

    Rajan’s earliest postcolonial reading of Milton was published as ‘Banyan Trees and Fig Leaves: Some Thoughts on Milton’s India’ inOf Poetry and Politics: New Essays on Milton and His World, edited by P.G. Stanwood (1995), and then revised for inclusion inUnder Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay(1999).

    The self-contesting nature ofParadise Lost, established at length in chapter 3, results in multiple representations of India, which in their entanglement with each other reflect imperialist perceptions that are correspondingly entangled. The maximum degree of entanglement is displayed in the banyan tree image. The tree is suggestively located...

  12. 6 The Imperial Temptation
    (pp. 93-111)

    This essay first appeared inMilton and the Imperial Vision, edited by Balachandra Rajan and Elizabeth Sauer (1999). The volume won the Irene Samuel Memorial Award in 2000. Rajan’s first essay onParadise Regainedappeared inTh’upright Heart and Pure: Essays on John Milton Commemorating the Tercentenary of the Publication ofParadise Lost,’ edited by Amadeus P. Fiore (1967). A revised and enlarged version was reprinted inThe Lofty Rhymein 1970. From the beginning, Rajan has been struck by Milton’s elaborate and extended treatment of the temptation of the kingdoms in the Son’s trial in the desert and in...

  13. 7 The Two Creations: Paradise Lost and the Treatise on Christian Doctrine
    (pp. 112-122)

    An early version of this essay was presented at the Seventh International Milton Symposium at Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2002. ‘The Poetics of Heresy’ (chapter 2) was written before the authorship of theTreatise on Christian Doctrineemerged as an important issue in Milton scholarship. Like the date ofSamson Agonistes, the authorship question carries an agenda with it. As withSamson Agonistes, Rajan in the present essay chooses to bypass the controversy and the view of Milton that it seeks to reshape, concentrating instead on the way in which the two texts illuminate each other. The essay examines the...

  14. 8 Milton and Camões: Reinventing the Old Man
    (pp. 123-134)

    An earlier version of this essay was printed in ‘Post-Imperial Camões,’ a special issue ofPortuguese Literary and Cultural Studies9 (fall 2002): 177–87. The original version was read at the conference, ‘Post-Imperial Camões, a Colloquium’ at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, in 2002. The background for the current essay is provided in Rajan’s chapter, ‘The Lusiadsand the Asian Reader,’ inUnder Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macauley(1999), 31–49. Pages 31–41 of the chapter inUnder Western Eyesexamine the circumstances of da Gama’s voyage and pp. 45–9 explore current interpretations of...

  15. 9 Warfaring and Wayfaring: Milton and the Globalization of Tolerance
    (pp. 135-150)

    This hitherto unpublished essay, composed in 2004, marks a further stage in Rajan’s continuing attempt to bring Milton’s work into engagement with the contemporary world. ‘Banyan Trees and Fig Leaves’ (chapter 5), ‘The Imperial Temptation’ (chapter 6), and ‘Reinventing the Old Man’ (chapter 8) are other illustrations of this effort. ‘Early modern’ is a term designed to invoke this connection. Nevertheless much seventeenth-century scholarship tends to estrange the seventeenth-century world from our time rather than to make the connection that ‘early modern’ invites.

    Estrangement does draw attention to the distinctiveness of seventeenth-century discourse, both in its terminology and its idiom,...

  16. Afterword: His More Attentive Mind
    (pp. 151-160)

    ‘After Blake,’ C.S. Lewis avers, ‘Milton criticism is lost in misunderstanding,’ not finding its way again until Lewis’s own time when, according to Douglas Bush, the Second World War helps in ‘the righting’ of our perception of Milton, especially of hisParadise Lost.¹ In the century and a half between Blake’s offending document,The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Lewis’s redeemingPreface to ‘Paradise Lost’are a series of critical skirmishes culminating in Walter Raleigh’s turn-of-the-century battle-cry – ‘Paradise Lost... is a monument to dead ideas.’² In its aftermath come the battle wounds inflicted by T.S. Eliot’s abrupt dismissal...

  17. Publications by Balachandra Rajan
    (pp. 161-166)
  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 167-180)
  19. Index
    (pp. 181-192)